As a kid I was always informed cheerfully by my dad that it was time for the field gun race. We would sit down and in equal amount of awe watch these burly men toss around a field gun with seeming ease. It was a show of strength and machoism mixed with military traditions and a lot pf pomp. It is a trust must see for anyone who loves teamwork and guts and strength.
Here is an example of what I mean. Taken from the last field gun race as we know it:
Taken from the FAA website:
Audiences are held spellbound as the three commands from Portsmouth, Devonport and Fleet Air Arm do battle in a twice daily race that see two teams of 18 men take a gun and limber that dates back to the last century and weighing over a ton, plus associated equipment over a five foot wall, across a twenty-eight foot wide chasm, through a four foot high by two foot wide hole and bring the equipment into action, to engage the enemy and fire three rounds. In a rearguard action enroute they have to overcome the same obstacles. This is called: Out, Back and Home. Each section is timed to the nearest one-hundredth of a second and at the end of the three sections the times are totalled. However, the run is still not over, penalties can still be incurred if the drill is not carried out correctly, for instance: a man moving before the ‘G’ is sounded on the bugle or throwing or dropping a piece of equipment into the chasm. These penalties are turned into seconds and these are added onto the final time. The crews are awarded 2 points for a win, 1 and a half for a tie, 1 for a defeat, and 0 for a disqualification or a run taking over 4 minutes to complete.
The display in its present competition form was started in 1912, inspired by the exploits of a Naval Brigade during the Boer War in 1899.
In South Africa at the turn of the last century relations between the Dutch in the Transvaal, the Orange State, the British in the Cape and Natal deteriorated rapidly after a conference held in Bloomfontein, capital of the Orange Free State, to resolve the problems arising form the massive influx of immigration as a result of the discovery of gold in the Transvaal and their claims for citizenship rights ended in stalemate. Both sides moved forces to their mutual borders, the British forces in Natal numbered less than 16,000 whilst the Transvaal Burgher army alone totalled nearly 27,000. In September the decision to despatch more than 10,000 troops to South Africa from home and abroad was made in London. The Transvaal Government responded to this major troop movement with an ultimatum issued on the 9th October, with a time limit of two days, that all British forces were to withdraw from the borders of the Transvaal and all the troops which had landed since the previous June were to be moved from South Africa and those on their way from overseas were not to be landed. Two days later on the 11th October 1899 at 5pm war was declared and the Boers invaded.
The British forces were quickly overwhelmed and forced back to the towns of Mafeking, Kimberley and Ladysmith, which were then besieged. Ladysmith was the most vulnerable of the three towns and should it fall a great moral victory could be claimed by the marauding Boer forces. It was at this point that the Royal Navy was called into action.
At anchor off Capetown were the cruisers, HMS Terrible and HMS Powerful, the British Commander in Natal, General Sir George White VC, signalled the ships for assistance, particularly long range guns. Fortunately for the General, Captain P.Scott RN of HMS Terrible was a gunnery expert and he quickly designed a carriage that could hold 6 inch, and 4.7 inch, 12 pounder naval guns for transit and in action. Following initial tests, all the necessary guns and equipment were transported to Durban by HMS Terrible; the carriages were then speedily manufactured in the Durban Railway workshops. The contingent was soon ready and under the command of Captain H.Lambton RN, the 280 officers and men with two, 4.7 inch guns, four long range 12 pounders and four maxim guns the Naval Brigade as they were now called, left Durban by rail for Ladysmith. Their train was the last to complete the journey to Ladysmith on the 30th October just as the siege and bombardment started.
The Naval Brigade were soon in action against the Boer artillery; their long range guns were so effective in countering the enemy batteries and holding them at bay that it was not long before Captain Scott was being asked to provide another brigade. This was duly done and the new brigade acted in support of General Buller’s push towards their besieged comrades. Due to the nature of this operation the railway was of little use, therefore the guns had to be manhandled over difficult terrain to be brought into action in many different engagements, eventually reaching Ladysmith after 120 days of blockade. This is the whole idea of Field Gun: to try and reconstruct as near to the truth as possible what happened a century ago during the relief of Ladysmith. The men not only had to cope with very difficult terrain but they had to construct some sort of way of getting across a bottomless area of land; this is where the present days chasm idea came from.
The news of the relief of Ladysmith was greeted with great jubilation in Britain and Queen Victoria sent a telegram to the Naval Brigades thanking them for their invaluable assistance. Leaving Ladysmith on the 7th March 1900 the sailors of Powerful and Terrible were soon back on board, the Powerful heading for home and arriving in Portsmouth on the 11th April.
The officers and men of Powerful were soon invited to a number of military and civic receptions culminating in a Royal audience with Queen Victoria where she personally thanked the ship’s company for their part in the saving of Ladysmith.
Since that year it has become customary to say that the Inter-port Field Gun Competition at the Royal Tournament is in commemoration of what Lambton’s men of the Powerful achieved in saving the town of Ladysmith. But each one of all the Naval brigades ashore in South Africa during the second Boer war performed deeds that are worthy, each in its way, of such salutation.
The Royal Military Tournament of 1900 was held in Islington Agricultural Hall and featured men from HMS Powerful parading one of their 4.7-inch naval guns called ‘Joe Chamberlain’. This proved most popular and the Navy’s contribution continued as part of the Tournament, which moved to Olympia in 1906.
In 1912 a competition replaced the parade for the first time, the three depots of Portsmouth, Chatham and Devonport providing the gun teams. This was the idea of Commander P.H Hall-Thompson RN, who is regarded as the father of the field gun competition. The 1914-1918 war stopped all such events for its duration but the competition returned with the new Royal Tournament of peacetime. The Second World War ‘stopped play’ for a second time, but the resumption saw two important changes: the venue was Earls Court in1950 and by now the Royal Tournament’s Field Gun Competition had been joined by a team from the Fleet Air Arm. Upon their entry the newcomers won the Aggregate Time Challenge Cup as well as the Fastest Time Cup. In 1960 Chatham ran at the tournament for the last time. Throughout the history of the Inter-Port competition as many as eight crews have competed including the Royal Marines in the 1920’s. However it is not just this year that records have been set and then broken.
In 1981 Portsmouth produced a record run of 2 minutes 42.4, only to see it snatched away again two years later by Devonport with a run of 2 minutes 41.1. However, the very next year, 1984, Chief Petty Officer PTI Keith Mack trained a Portsmouth crew, which put in a blistering run of 2 minutes 40.6, which was the record that had stood for fifteen years. But it is not all glory and record breaking as was proved in 1982. A.B Allen the Flying Angel (no.7) for Portsmouth was the last man being pulled across the chasm on the run back. He reached the home ramp and released the ten-foot spar he was carrying as his drill required and ran on down the ramp. However, instead of checking on the collapsing sheer legs and passing on the outside of them he went through the middle. The collapsing sheer legs killed him. (The sheer legs weigh 170lbs) Broken bones, pulled muscles and severe cuts were the risks that dedicated gunners accepted and before they signed up they were required to sign a disclaimer stating that they would not sue the Navy for damages. But when they signed the disclaimer they never expected a man would be killed in the toughest team sport in the world.
Sadly, due to ‘Government cuts’ this year was the last year of the Royal Tournament as everybody knows it and the final time anyone will ever ‘run the gun’. On 20th July 1999 the Government confirmed what many people had been dreading for months, the fact that the field gun competition would come to an end in August 1999. Both at Devonport base, HMS Drake and at Earls Court there was a very subdued atmosphere. On the night of Devonport’s last ever run the ‘A’ Crew stayed in their mess for most of the day and when the moment came they all had tears in their eyes. There were mixed emotions and a tense atmosphere as the crew came into the bar. Nobody knew what to say whether to congratulate them or to give them sympathy. Some members of the crew just sat and stared at their lynch pins, crying. They were inconsolable. The last night was also a moment I’ll never forget. It ended in controversy as all three crews wore black armbands during the run, even after they were told by the MOD not to, but whatever anybody did it would not change the future. When Devonport went into the arena to collect their trophies there was not a dry eye in the arena. When the commentator announced it was to be the last time we would ever see the ‘Men of Field Gun’, the whole arena showed their anger by stamping the floor or banging their chairs. It was obvious that no one wanted it to end, however, it was too late. Backstage the Devonport crew should have been celebrating their New World Record and their overall success but they felt as if there was no celebrating to be done.
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Tags: devonport, faa, field gun, field gun race, hms powerful, hms terrible, ladysmith, portsmouth
You’ve all seen it. Masses of compute illiterate folks shit scared that Facebook has their details. “Oh my god they have my details sob sob sob they will ruin me sob sob sob”.
Fact is, it is easy to make yourself invisible to the world. For instance if you search me on Facebook you won’t find me. Not unless we have a friend in common. If you try to look at my photos it won’t let you.
The majority of people who bitch and moan about the privacy settings have never used them.
If you are sensible it isn’t really a problem unless they have a major malfunction. The big bad wolf ehre has to be the Xbox. More specifically the Xbox 360 live community.
I recently bought an Xbox and signed up to the live community. Within a couple of days quite a few of my friends had added me to their friends list. Now the point I am getting at is that when you look at your friends list it tells you what they are doing and when they were doing it. It also shows you what games they play and how well they have done.
In my opinion if you are signing into Xbox Live as soon as you turn it on, like it does automatically then you can be stalked. For instance I went on last night to play a game. I saw a friend online playing a demo to a good game. I sent him an invite to play my game. I know he got it, he knows I know he got it. So he replied and in a few minutes we were playing the game.
But what if you were supposed to go round a buddies? But don’t feel up it.. So you make up some excuse about going round your parents or being ill etc. But then you get a pissy message the enxt day from the friend. Turns out. They had logged onto Xbox Live and seen that you ahd been on playing all night long. You werent ill or round your parents. You were sitting in your room blowing up shit.
Solution? Don’t have a Facebook account or an Xbox……… Have a life!
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Tags: facebook, friends, stalking, video games, xbox, xbox 360, xbox live
Just a quick post. There’s something that bothers me about the word ‘racism’. It isn’t racism itself but the fact people use it whenever referring to a hate crime.
For instance there’s been a fad recently of people claiming to have been told to take their England football shirts off by the police as it offends foreigners, notably Polish. Which is complete crap. I mean seriously. This is the sort of shit that incites hatred. But the thing that bothers me is that people call this racism.
You know those grammar Nazis kick off when people misuse your and you’re, and there, their, they’re. Well that is a simple grammar error.
They should be kicking off on people who confuse 2 entirely different words. These are racism and xenophobia. Racism is hatred towards a race. Xenophobia is a hatred towards strangers and/or foreigners. So abusing Polish because they supposedly get offended at a football shirt, is Xenophobia NOT racism. Get it right.
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Tags: england, football shirt, polish, racism, racism xenophobia, xenophobia
An experiment started this week. The Mars 500. A very interested, groundbreaking experiment. To cut it short they have put 6 men, 6 astronauts in a contained building to simulate a trip to mars. It is a psychological experiment if anything, to test if humans can be around each other in such a contained environment. They are in there for 520 days.
The building is built in the same way as the spaceship that will eventually go to Mars:
To make it more realistic they are trying to simulate everything apart from the whole anti-gravity problem. Even taking it to the point where they put a 20 minute delay on the transmissions to simulate the distance the crew are from Earth. Now if anything this is going to isolate the crew more. Just 6 of them in a box for 18 months with the only people available to talk to them on a 20 minute delay. There are 5 different areas to the experiment the astronauts can explore:
MEDICAL MODULE: The 12m-long cylinder acts as the laboratory. Should a crewmember become ill, he can be isolated and treated here.
HABITABLE MODULE: The main living quarters. The 20m-long module has beds, a galley, a social area. It also acts as the main control room.
LANDING MODULE: This will only be used during the 30-day landing operation. There is room only for the three crewmembers who will visit the “surface”.
STORAGE MODULE: The 24m-long module is divided into four compartments, to store food and other supplies, to house a greenhouse, a gym a refrigeration unit.
SURFACE MODULE: To walk across the soil and rocks of Mars, crew members must put on Orlan spacesuits and pass through an airlock .
My only issue with this isn’t the cramp conditions, the having to speak to the same people everyday for 18 months. or even the fact I am in a warehouse in Russia. My biggest issue is the decor inside the place:
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Tags: astronauts, experiment, mars, mars 500, mission, russia
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Tags: cartoon, drawing, semi vowels, vowels
Today is towel day.
Now I don’t mean you hold a big party to celebrate the functionality of a towel. That would be pretty cool but it is not the purpose of this post.
One of the funniest and wittiest books ever written was the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. The author Douglas Adams went on to pen a series of these books. They started off originall as a radio show and went through the motions all the way to a film. Which was widely panned. Anyway.
Point being is that the HG has accumilated a mssive cult following. A cult which is made up primarily of nerds. So being that Nerds power the internet, this shit has gone massive since the first day back in 2001. Now if I was to ask you what the nerdiest place in the whole world could be? I bet you would say CERN.
You know, the place where they are recreating black holes and stuff under the mountains. The LHC? There you go, you knwo the place. Well on their own bulletin board on the website they are reminding people about towel day. Take your hats off to CERN. The folks at CERN would have had an uprising if they had advised people not to bring in towels. I mean, have you ever seen a bunch of angry nerds? Its evil. Pure evil.
So back to what I started with. Towel day is to celebrate the life and work of the HG’s creator Douglas Adams. He died on the 11th May 2001. Exactly 2 weeks after his death day we carry towels around…… everywhere! The reason behidn this is that in the HG which is carried by people hitchhiking their way around it states that if you are seen to be carrying a towel, who ever picks you up will assume you have all the other essentials. And are therefore trustworthy. So basically you can have a towel and nothing else and get picked up. Nice.
The HG in the book is red with big white letters on it saying “Don’t Panic”. A bit like these flags in Austria (Where the idea for HG was formed)
So I bought a red towel and have spray painted the phrase on it. It may have ruined a £2 towel but damn do I look good.
Get those towels out folks!
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Tags: don't panic, douglas adams, hitchikers guide, towel day